The “Why?” of Baptism?

 When Jesus gave his Great Commission to the apostles he said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).  Obviously, Jesus gave baptism as an important part of the preaching that was to go out into all the world.  Why was this?  Why is baptism so important?


The scriptures are clear that it is at the point of baptism (and not before) that sins are forgiven.  When the ones guilty of killing Jesus believed in him and were convicted of their sins, they asked Peter and the other apostles what they should do (Acts 2:37).   Peter’s response was, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).


Another example is the Apostle Paul.  Paul believed in Jesus Christ after meeting him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6).  A preacher by the name of Ananias was sent to him to explain to Paul what God’s plans for him were (see Acts 9:10-19, Acts 22:6-16 and Acts 26:12-20).  He had seen and talked to Jesus on the road to Damascus so we know that Paul believed in him.  Yet, his sins were not forgiven as is evidenced by what he was told by Ananias, the preacher, “Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16). 


In 1 Peter 3:21 the Bible says, “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”  Because there is forgiveness of sins in baptism and it saves you, those who became believers in the New Testament were immediately baptized (see Acts 2:41; 8:38; 16:33 and 22:16).  Baptism does not remove dirt from the body but removes sins from the soul!  This is why Paul says that after baptism, “We too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).


When New Testament writers speak or write about baptism, they are always clear about the “Why?”  The “Why?” of baptism is for the forgiveness of sins.


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